Chevy Silverado wheel caps that pop off

2000 Chevy Silverado w 16" wheels.

The design of the wheels is that around the center of the wheel there’s a cap that covers the 6 lug nuts. The cap is shaped like a hat and has the Chevy bow tie in its center. The cap is held on by 6 black bolt looking covers that screw over the outside threads of the lug nuts. The black bolt looking covers are part of the cap, they’re molded into it and can’t individually be removed. They’re also plastic and they’re absolute crap.

Bought the truck new and all was well until around 06 or 07 I started noticing how those black bolt looking covers would be loose. One or two here and there, at first. By the time I’d get around to a tire rotation or tire change, they’d be taken care of.

The past couple of years though I can’t keep the caps on. A sharp turn at a high speed and all but one or two will come loose by the time I get to where I’m going. On a couple of occasions I’ve lost the cap completely. It happened once while going through a round-about at normal speed. It popped off and rolled across the asphault and up onto the sidewalk.

To stop this, I’ve had all the lug nuts replaced last year because their outside threads were corroded and worn down after 11 years. I also replaced a couple of the caps since getting the new lug nuts and still those come loose too. I keep a socket wrench in the truck to occasionally tighten them up and by occassionally I mean two to three times a week. Sometimes I can tighten them, sometimes they just won’t go back on. It would seem that after new lug nuts and a couple of new caps with brand new black covers, that the problem is bigger than just those things… maybe the wheel itself is the problem?

What to do?

Initial thought was to just buy a different model set of wheels from GM for that same era. Dealership says that all the GM products for that truck in that size wheel will involve the use of those plastic black covers that will either keep a flat cap or hat cap over the lug nuts. Maybe that would be ok for another few years??? Also tried National Tire and Battery but wasn’t impressed with what they said to check out on their website with their wheel visualization program. They all look too flashy, too sporty, or too low rider’ish for a straight-forward, Mom and apple pie no frills pick up truck. Have also wondered if it could be an alignment issue or could it be something that could be cured if there were longer lug nuts with outside threads that would stick out a little further thereby making more, deeper contact with the center cap. It would also allow the center cap to “float” a little above the wheel cover and not be pushed by the wheel until it pops or loosens.

Any thoughts? Thanks.

chrome wheel common problem for chev. the simplest fix is to hold center tight to wheel and scribe around with marker. grind the center down. use non hardening permatex to secure nut threads. the problem is center of chrome warps outward after 4 or five years age.

I have the same exact truck, in “work truck” trim. The decorative hubcaps are not the problem. The problem is that someone is overtorquing the plastic nuts, causing them to split or strip out, so they won’t properly tighten to the actual lug nuts on the wheels.

You can buy a set of 4 new genuine Chevrolet decorative hubcaps online for less than what the dealer charges–I think I paid about $60 with free shipping. If you don’t care about the Chevrolet logo, there is a version where the center is just a glossy black circle, for about $40 with free shipping. Just be careful to use a nutdriver when tightening the plastic nuts, and don’t overtorque them.

I found that the problem is the plastic cap is barely attached to the wheel nut by only 2 turns. So to repair this first make sure the plastic caps are in good shape and replace them if stripped or cracked. Next take the center caps off the truck ( you might have to remove all the plastic caps) and shave 1/4 inch off the back of the center cap where it touches the wheel. I used a small cutoff wheel on a dremel tool, wear eye and ear protection because it gets loud and there will be a lot of plastic flying around. Put some sandpaper down on a table and sand the center caps flat and trim any bits off to clean it up. Now put everything back together and reinstall on truck, carefully screw the plastic caps back on all the way. No one will notice the modification and they will not pop off at highway speeds.